At the beginning of the year, I knew something would be different about this year. My word for 2019 is grow and WOW how I’ve grown. To prepare myself for growth, I added a few steps to my routine. You know the ones you read about. The life changing benefits of journaling and being grateful, just to name a couple. So excited about this new opportunity to grow, I bought a journal and I fancied up a Ball Jar to make a gratitude jar. I was so proud of myself. I sat the family down over Christmas break and explained how the gratitude jar worked. As I explained this to them, I could just see it overflowing with words of love and thanks written on the not so perfect squares of paper I had cut. I had visions of us sitting down as a family to write out what we were thankful for and sharing these stories. It warmed my heart.
After a week or so, I noticed that my family didn’t look forward to it near as much as I did. A mom can tell but I just knew they’d come around. This was good for us. Studies published on the internet said so. Then a funny thing happened, I noticed that I didn’t really look forward to it anymore. Was it the vibe I picked up from my family? Was the jar not pretty enough? What was the problem? Within a couple of weeks it was over. We stopped writing words of gratitude. No more pieces of paper in the fancy jar. It was official – I had failed.
In the throes of life, I left the jar sitting quietly on the table collecting dust. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. One day I decided to go through the notes in the jar. I read them out loud. Pets. Family. Pizza. I pulled out what I had written and tried to think back to what I was feeling at the time. I was blank. Yes, I was thankful for family but why? It’s just a word written on paper if there’s no emotion. I was left with a jar containing pieces of paper with words scribbled on them. Glass. Paper. Ink. That’s it.
What did I miss? I wanted to be thankful. I wanted my family to be thankful. I wanted to feel so much gratitude that my heart felt happy. I wanted to look back through those words and feel my eyes fill up with tears of joy. I wanted to share this experience with my family. I wanted to connect and feel. I wanted. There it was. I wanted.
I was expecting that gratitude jar to do what I hadn’t been able to do, slow down and soak up every beautiful moment this life has to offer. Somehow I had tricked myself into thinking the act of writing something down would make me feel it more and make me savor the moment. In a weird way, I expected this jar to create connections and moments that I was so deeply in need of. I was in hopes that this jar would create a different life, the one I thought I needed in order to be grateful. This pretty decorated jar wasn’t a gratitude jar, it was an accountability jar dressed up to force me to be grateful and document it.
I can’t begin to tell you how difficult that was for me to admit. If I’m honest, I was scared. Fear had taken hold and lied to me. The moments of Taylor curling up in my lap, wanting to play hide and seek or spit blowing the seeds from a dandelion were over. Moments I was so grateful for were gone never to be experienced again.
The sensible part of me knew my efforts made no sense, but my fear spoke louder and forced me to put on my “I’m in control pants” to, of all things, force gratitude.
GRATITUDE CAN’T BE FORCED.
You can force words to be spoken or written but until it’s felt from the depths of everything good within you, it will not change your world.
My gratitude looks completely different now. Instead of simply writing down the word pets, I write about the sound our chickens make as the sun comes up and how it makes me smile every morning. I’ve stopped to notice the little things that I will hold with me forever and I allow time to reflect and feel the joy that comes from this gratitude. I don’t simply write it down. I feel it. I experience it. I cherish it.
God is in the big and the small but it’s up to you to see Him and experience the joy that pure gratitude can bring. My Thanksgiving prayer for you is to feel gratitude deep within, like you’ve never felt before and for that pure gratitude to flow through you and from you to change your world.